Pride in Pittsburgh: All You Need is Love
The birthplace of LGBT trailblazers like pop artist Andy Warhol and fabled writer Gertrude Stein, Pittsburgh has always had sophistication beyond what big-money families like the Mellons and Heinzs brought into town. But the city, which turns 200 this year, is serious fun too, with 90 diverse neighborhoods to prowl.
Pittsburgh's sprawling Pride, a 10-day celebration that kicked off June 3, attracts some 100,000 people to events held everywhere from downtown to neighborhoods like tony Shadyside. The performers, who have included Melissa Etheridge and Chaka Khan, are usually big names, like this year's headliner, Kesha.
"Kesha has used her influence and international platform to bring attention to the challenges faced by women and the LGBT community," says Gary Van Horn, president of the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh, producers of Pittsburgh Pride. "We are thrilled to bring her to Pride in the Street this year."
Dine and Wine
Speaking of Shadyside, it's home to some seriously swanky LGBT-owned and -managed establishments - like Soba, located on main drag Ellsworth Avenue. A drop-dead gorgeous Pan-Asian eatery that rises up through the floors of a renovated brick row house, it features a large and lively lounge area.
Soba's talented chefs turn even simple dishes like seaweed salad with yuzu mustard vinaigrette sublime; order as much as your tummy can reasonably hold. Hit it up Wednesdays for late-night drink and small-plate specials.
Before bidding adios to the 'Burgh, don't forget to breakfast at Pamela's Diner, with six locations, including Shadyside and the Strip District. The crispy-on-the-edges crepe hotcakes are legendary for a reason.
Score Some Culture
On the shortlist of Pittsburgh's most famed sons, the man born Andrew Warhola gets the superstar treatment he so richly deserves at the Andy Warhol Museum, billed as "one of the most comprehensive single-artist museums in the world." With works ranging from portraits of Liz and Jackie to Silver Clouds¬-a room filled with giant Mylar balloons shaped like pillows-and even a few early photographs of pretty-boy past loves, this seven-floor museum is a treasure.
Lay Your Head
The funky and fabulous Hotel Monaco by Kimpton makes luxury fun with 248 design-conscious rooms featuring touches like a bedside chandelier tucked into a gilded birdcage and tufted green headboards. Only about 18 months old, the boutique property has nifty public spaces too, including a mezzanine "living room" that serves complimentary coffee in the morning and wine in the evening, and a rooftop biergarten with a wide-ranging European beer list and a great German pub grub menu to boot.
For the adrenaline addict who digs water sports, there's no grander glory than Surf Pittsburgh, which schools adventurers on the finer points of catching waves on one of the city's three rivers. Owner Steve Ford throttles up the engine, cranks the tunes and tows students on a surfboard behind the boat, the city skyline shining in the distance. Once riders hit the sweet spot in the boat's wake, it's time to let go of the towline and surf Pittsburgh-style!
Located in Shadyside just down Ellsworth from Soba, 5801 is Soba General Manager Michael Goldberg's pick for Pittsburgh's best gay bar. "It's always been a special place," Goldberg recalls. "Before becoming 5801, it was called NYNY (New York, New York). It was and still is a place to go where all are accepted. The energy is always good, and it's always welcoming. It's the neighborhood bar for all of Pittsburgh."
Bonus Tip: Looking to shop 'til you drop? Trim Pittsburgh, on Baum Boulevard, is a big slice of heaven for fans of men's designer underwear, swimsuits, and active- and loungewear.